Pepperdine Postpones In-Person Return from January to February

Pepperdine Collection

Pepperdine University’s dean backtracked on the idea of an in-person start in early January 2021, announcing the spring semester would run from Feb. 8, 2021 to May 20, 2021, with no spring break. The announcement of the shortened semester was made via email on Tuesday, Sept. 15.

Pepperdine students were still given the option to attend classes in January (the school will do a condensed one-month term in January instead of the usual shortened Maymester term they normally attach to the end of the school year), but the university expected most of those classes would take place online, with the possibility of some in-person classes, internships and research opportunities “if conditions permit.” January courses would be priced at a discount, according to the Graphic newspaper.

In-person learning was slated to officially begin at the start of the spring semester in February,  reportedly to allow time for the development of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to a message Dean Michael Feltner wrote to Pepperdine students that was later reported by the Graphic.

Feltner wrote in an email that he was hoping that all in-person classes, including those in international programs, would resume in the spring semester, but that his administration was drawing up multiple “course delivery” plans due to the unpredictable nature of the pandemic. 

The calendar also included dates for graduation ceremonies for both the classes of 2020 and 2021 on May 21 and 22, respectively, as per an email on Sept. 4, according to the Graphic. 

The pandemic has already forced Pepperdine to shift course multiple times since the university sent students home in March. On July 14, the university announced professors could select which method of teaching they preferred, whether that be hybrid, in-person or online—but then reversed that decision on July 22 to go fully online, drawing criticism from students who moved back to the expensive Malibu zip code in anticipation of in-person classes. 

Pepperdine then shifted its schedule to begin the fall semester two weeks earlier than usual, a timeframe that allows students to finish finals before Thanksgiving and then return home for a longer winter break, thereby reducing travel. 

Pepperdine tuition was not altered by the virus. A student paying full tuition with no aid was charged upwards of $50,000 for the academic year, according to the university’s website.